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Kristin Beaver, 2000 BFA Art alumna
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"Golden Favorite" by Kristin Beaver, oil on canvas, 70" x 70" (2009)
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Prestigious Kresge Artist Fellowship to WIU BFA Alumna

August 19, 2009

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MACOMB, IL - - Oil painter Kristin Beaver, a 2000 BFA art alumna of Western Illinois Universtiy, is among 18 artists selected from hundreds of applicants to be awarded an inaugural Kresge Artist Fellowship in the Visual Arts. The 12-month fellowship, which includes an unrestricted $25,000 prize funded by The Kresge Foundation, is the largest award of its type available to individual artists in metropolitan Detroit.

"The 18 fellows are representative of the exceptional talents of the visual artists living and working in metropolitan Detroit. Kresge Arts in Detroit is pleased to provide the support that will help these outstanding artists continue to pursue their professional careers and contribute to the cultural vitality of our city and region," wrote Michelle Perron, director of Kresge Arts in Detroit, on the Kresge website (

Detroit Free Press arts critic Mark Stryker wrote in the June 30 edition: "The fellowships cut a broad swath through Detroit's visual artists, from emerging talents like Beaver, who paints energetic figurative portraits of her generation, to widely known veterans like Gordon Newton, 61, whose gritty sculptures helped define the Cass Corridor movement in the early '70s."

"I was ecstatic about receiving the Kresge Artist Fellowship," said Beaver, who was born and raised in Macomb, where she often visited Brophy Hall, where her dad, David Beaver, physical education professor emeritus, worked.

As for the yearlong financial endowment, Beaver said: "This fellowship will allow me to work in the studio more this year. I will be teaching less and focusing more on painting, which is a nice change. It takes the edge off in terms of financial stress, too. I can acquire supplies needed to work hard and produce new work."

"These Kresge Artist Fellowships are highly competitive and much sought after by artists," said Charles Wright, Western Illinois' art department chair and professor. "We will proudly point out her success to all our students and faculty."

Beaver said she had always wanted to be a painter, and as a child she tried to draw people.

"It wasn't until I was enrolled at Western that I really learned how to do both of these things," she said. "I took a lot of traditional classes focused on the basic fundamentals of art and did a lot of observational drawing and painting. My favorite classes were figure drawing and painting. Once I learned how to manipulate paint and document what was in front of me, it allowed me to move on conceptually, using other tools, like the photograph. I've always loved photography, so it was a natural progression to create photo-based paintings.

"I am primarily a painter, preferring oil as my medium. My work is photo-based; however, I have never shown my photos. They are like notes or preliminary drawings for the paintings; perhaps sometime in the future I will show them," she added.

Beaver, who graduated from Macomb High School a semester early and "did not want to attend Western Illinois because she was from Macomb," took some art classes at Western and "ended up loving it. Western has a great art department."

"My education at Western would not have been the same without art professors Michael and Julie Mahoney and Jan Clough. They were generous instructors. I not only gained skill from their instruction, but I learned a lot about being an artist, and about life in general," Beaver said. "They are all great people. I think about them a lot, as I am now an instructor, as well. Obviously, others in the art department had significant impact on my education, too."

Represented by the David Kline Gallery (; Birmingham, MI), Beaver is currently creating artworks for a Sept. 12-Oct. 17 solo exhibition at the gallery.

Her artwork is in the collections of the David Klein Gallery, the Meadow Brook Art Gallery (Rochester, MI) and Western Illinois University's Art Gallery. She is also the subject of an article in an upcoming issue of the American Art Collector magazine.

Beaver has won and placed in many exhibitions, including a first in show and a purchase award in the 1999 Annual Juried Student Awards Show at Western Illinois University; second place in the 2000 Sullivan Taylor Annual Fall Juried Student Exhibition, Macomb; and best of show at the 2003 Annual: All Media Exhibition at the Ann Arbor (MI) Art Center. She also received an art and art history travel fellowship (2004) at Wayne State University and a faculty travel grant (2008) at Wayne State.

For her Master of Fine Arts degree, Beaver applied to several graduate schools, including Wayne State, where she earned her MFA in 2004.

"I learned a lot about Wayne State and Detroit through the Mahoneys, who had moved to Western from Detroit and are Wayne State alums," Beaver said. "I had applied to a few other school in other cities, but I chose Detroit because of its rich history and gritty environment. It is, and always has been, a breeding ground for visual arts and music. It is a unique, exciting - - yet struggling - - city."

Just the place to feed an artist's soul.

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